Congress Proposes Drastic Cut to GI Bill Flight Training

By Scott Spangler on February 1st, 2016 | Comments Off on Congress Proposes Drastic Cut to GI Bill Flight Training

If you care about the aviation industry and the veterans, whose honorable service earned them GI Bill benefits that lead to the degrees leading to careers in it, you need to be aware of HR 3016. You may wonder what the VA Provider Equity Act, which would pay podiatrists the same at other physicians who work the Veterans Administration, and establish a new VA bureaucracy, has to do with veteran flight training benefits.

A lot.

Buried in HR 3016, introduced by Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), is a provision that would cut veteran flight training benefits by $882 million over the next decade. Making this disservice to our vets even worse is the discrimination it represents; veterans using their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits to earn degrees in other disciplines do not face the cuts proposed for those pursuing aviation degrees.

Specifically, HR 3016 would cap VA flight training benefits at $20,235 a year, a total of $80,940 for a four-year degree program. As anyone already in aviation probably knows, the actual costs are much higher. With their higher operating costs, rotary-wing aircraft lead the way. According to a Helicopter Association International survey, a four-year degree for an employment ready commercial helo pilot with instrument instructor rating is approximately $212,500.

To further increase the student debt of veterans pursuing an aviation career, HR 3016 proposes that the VA no longer pay for training that leads to a private pilot certificate, the first step in a professional pilot degree program. Depending on where the students are going to school, and depending on what they are flying, this prerequisite will cost them $15,000 to $20,000.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, enactment of this legislation would deny 600 veterans a year from pursing the professional pilot degree programs that would launch their aviation careers. HR 3016 is scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, February 2. If, as expected, the House approves it, the legislation then goes to the Senate. This gives us two chances to contact our elected officials and let them know what we think of this discriminatory and unfair cut to benefits our vets have honorable earned. Scott Spangler, Editor

User-Fee ATC: Speak Up Now or Lose Access

By Scott Spangler on January 18th, 2016 | Comments Off on User-Fee ATC: Speak Up Now or Lose Access

Call it what you like, privatizing, corporatizing, or commercializing the FAA air traffic control system will ruin the foundation of the world’s largest, safest, and most diverse and complex national airspace system. Oh, and unless we stand up and speak up to our elected officials, it will probably mark the end of general aviation as we know it. And not for the reason you think.

Our politicians and the special interests behind them propose this ATC takeover at least once a decade. Common to all of them is replacing the efficient and equitable fuel-and-ticket-tax funding of the system with user fees. Money always gets a pilot’s attention, but that’s not what this is about.

What matters most to the special interests behind these efforts is control of who has access to the airspace and airports. Regardless of the primary target, such as the growing number of low-cost carriers targeted in the 1990’s user-fee ATC attempt, GA always comes second to the airlines’ needs, and in every scheme, airline people are the majority on the board of directors that would run user-fee ATC.

The GA community successfully opposed the user-fee ATC schemes proposed in the 1990s and in 2006-8, but the threat this year is more ominous for several reasons.

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Trying Something New

By Robert Mark on January 14th, 2016 | Comments Off on Trying Something New

TAM Final LogowithJet-01Trying Something New

Quite a few Jetwhine readers and listeners have asked what happened to The Aviation Minute, the editorial podcast series I began a couple of years ago using this neat logo.

The simple answer is we’ve evolved a bit … from the early audio-based shows to a video-centered stories.

Thanks to a new partnership between Jetwhine and, publishers of Airport Business, AMT and Ground Service and Support – we’ve also changed the name from The Aviation Minute to On the Mark adding this new logo along the way. The shows will air twice a month on both the site and here at Jetwhine, but will also be delivered directly to viewers via an e-mail blast system.


OTM Logo 1

So here’s On the Mark, Networking Tips From NBAA 2015 (click to view).

As always, I’m interested in what you think of the content, as well as the production. I’m always on the lookout for some under-appreciated topic thats cries out for a little coverage, so pass along your ideas to us at Thanks for watching.

Rob Mark, Publisher

Taking Time to Find Aviation Serendipity

By Scott Spangler on January 4th, 2016 | 7 Comments »

NAHA-113On your way someplace else, how many times have you passed a sign pointing to a small town airport? The more important question is how many times have you followed that sign?

With the potential for unknown delays between the sign and your intended destination, and the unlikely reward of aviation serendipity, of finding something interesting at a small airport in these aviation depressed times, you probably drive on by. Yeah, me, too.

But not this year, or in all the years to follow. Finding something special is worth the minutes it takes to follow the airport sign and make a drive-by inspection. If there is nothing that captures my curiosity, I’ll be on my way. But if it is taken prisoner, what else can I do but surrender to it?

A visit to the municipal airport, with a single 4,400-foot runway, that serves the 11,639 residents of Urbana, Ohio, planted the seed for this change. Had I been traveling and not touring the National Aviation Heritage Area, I would have missed something truly unique, the Champaign Aviation Museum, which calls this small town airport, also known as Grimes Field,  home.

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It Takes a Community to Promote Aviation

By Scott Spangler on December 21st, 2015 | Comments Off on It Takes a Community to Promote Aviation

Promoting aviation to ensure its future viability and growth is something important to most of us who are involved with it personally or professionally. Individuals and organizations have promoted and pursued programs dedicated to inviting newcomers to the fold, and the results have often fallen short of those promised. Yes, there have been a number of one-on-one success stories, but the challenge is making this successful personal approach work on a larger scale.

The Raisbeck Aviation High School, a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math education is a worthy model for all to consider because it unites aviation’s many communities in pursuit of a common goal. Founded and operated by Highline Public Schools (District 401), RAHS serves 27 different school districts in the Washington’s Puget Sound region.

Its campus is located at Boeing Field’s Museum of Flight, making it the only aviation themed college-prep school that shares resources with an aerospace museum. And it receives an inspirational assist from the 200 or or so aviation related businesses that surround the school. But it goes beyond that, said Steve Davolt, RAHS’s coordinator of work-based learning. “Mentorships and internships have been an integral part of the schools since it was started 12 years ago.”

Mentorship pairs an RAHS student with an area aviation professional, he continued; both individuals make a one-year commitment, but many of them continue three or four years, until the student graduates. Every summer, nearly half of the 425-member student body participates in a 10-12-week internship, 60 percent of which are paid.

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How Deep is Your Aviation Knowledge?

By Scott Spangler on December 7th, 2015 | Comments Off on How Deep is Your Aviation Knowledge?

With the approach of December 17, which every airplane geek holds dear as Kitty Hawk Day, the birthday of powered flight, a brief quiz to probe your aviation knowledge beyond this momentous event.

The questions come from Aviation Trail, a member of Dayton’s National Aviation Historic Alliance. Answering these questions during the Aviation Writers Summit in Dayton earlier this year I was able to answer most of them. But a handful introduced me to new and fascinating aspects of aviation that inspired further study—and appreciation—of aviation’s contributions to the larger world. Enjoy! –Scott Spangler, Editor

1. How many Wright siblings were there who lived to adulthood?

2. What were the careers of the Wright brothers before they started building airplanes?

3. Name the first African-American to have make a living as a writer and why he was significant?

4. How did a rectangular inner tube box inspire Wilber Wright?

5. How many flights took place at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903?

6. How long was the first flight?

7. Where was the Wright Company Flying School, and who was one of its famous graduates?

8. Why did the Wrights chose Kitty Hawk for their glider test site?

9. Where is the original Wright Flyer displayed?

10. Other than the airplane, name five major Dayton inventions (among thousands of all types)?

11. Which Wright brother was from another state, and which one was the first to fly?

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Encouraging People to Replace Us

By Robert Mark on December 1st, 2015 | 1 Comment »

Encouraging People to Replace Us

Finding young people to grab the reins from us old guys in aviation is a bit like the weather … everyone talks about why we need to do something, but not everyone is clear about how to actually make that happen. Certainly doing nothing is the wrong answer. So what can we do to increase our odds of connecting all the right people together?

NBAA 2015 yoproAt the recent NBAA convention, the association offered a number of us an opportunity to mingle with a hundred or so officially named Young Professionals who’d volunteered to listen to us more-experienced (secret code for older) industry folks detail how we started while also delivering a bit of unsolicited advice for job seekers.

The NBAA team was spearheaded by the association’s Sierra Grimes with Brett Ryden from Southcomm’s Aviation leading a group of his editors who together created an hour’s worth of practical education at the show’s Innovation Zone. The panel was evenly split between ladies and gents … myself, Jo Damato from NBAA, Sarah Barnes from Paragon Aviation and Textron Aviation’s senior VP of Customer Service Brad Thress. Our moderator was writer Lowen Baumgarten.

Stage members spent a few minutes detailing their experiences, but since we were there to answer questions, I was antsy to interact with the audience. Over the course of the hour there were perhaps seven or eight good ones, but I wanted more. I probably shouldn’t have.

Reality kicked in for me about 20 minutes after we began as I realized that some of what a number of young people had told me the night before was really true … networking is not an innate skill, not even close. I’d seen this kind of thing before too. Universities apparently assume graduates automatically absorb networking skills out of thin air I guess. Luckily NBAA and AviationPros and a few other organizations have made the effort to fill those voids. Read the rest of this entry »

Historic Airplanes: A Reliquary for the Spirit and Soul of Their Crews

By Scott Spangler on November 23rd, 2015 | 3 Comments »

MB Crew

NAHA-158The men who united as a crew in the vertical war over Europe after Pearl Harbor have all since surrendered, as we all must one day, to time. Its last living member, radio operator Robert Hanson, passed into history in 2005 at age 85. But their spirits and souls live on in the reliquary that fused their individual personalities into historic airplanes like the Memphis Belle.

Standing before its wingless fuselage in the crowded restoration hangar of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, under its iconic nose art I see the crew of the Memphis Belle, men just past 20, bundled up in sheepskin and thick coveralls. They are, from left, Harold Loch, Cecil Scott, Robert Hanson, James Verinis, Robert Morgan, Charles Leighton, John Quinlan, Casmer Nastal, Vincent Evans, and Clarence Winchell.

Portrayed in an eponymous motion picture, Hollywood history has confused the significance of what these men achieved in the Memphis Belle. It was not the historic airplane before me that successfully flew 25 missions, it was the team that gave it life. Consistent through all the history of the era I’ve read, including The Man Who Flew the Memphis Belle, written by Robert Morgan and Ron Powers in 2001, daylight bombing early in the war endured an 80-percent casualty rate.

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Measuring Aviation Rewards: A Personal Hall of Fame

By Scott Spangler on November 2nd, 2015 | 1 Comment »

NAHA-73Gathering with my aeronautical peers, I rarely participate in conversations in which they compare their cumulative and recent aviation rewards in terms of certificates and ratings earned, total hours logged, or most recent aircraft flown. While I share in the joy of their accomplishments—and sometimes envy them—I measure my aviation rewards by a different standard.

Like my peers, I share their overwhelming passion for flight. But making the most of available opportunity, circumstance, and individual interest, I’ve grown into an erudite aviator. The aviation rewards that I relish is association with others who have shared their more extensive knowledge and experience with me, and the opportunity to share what they have taught me with others.

Every aviator, I’m sure, has enshrined these notable individuals in his or her personal hall of fame. Mine was founded with the flight instructors who patiently conveyed the aeronautical knowledge and stick-and-rudder skills that realized my aviation dreams. Their names, Kim Middleton, Kerry Rowan, and Caroline Kalman, are unknown to most, but that does not diminish their contribution to those of us who were their students.

In select circles of aviation, some of my personal enshrinees are better known, like Loren Doughty and David Borrows, who demystified the complexity of helicopter flight by talking me through my first hand attempts at it. Dave Gwinn, Terry Blake, and Hal Shevers taught me different aspects of the business of aviation, and dedicated FAAers, who I’m sure wish to preserve their anonymity, took me behind the curtain of terminal and en route air traffic control, flight standards, and the nuances of flight test and aircraft certification.

In my mind there is a wing reserved for those who fostered my opportunities as an aviation word merchant. Gary Worden, Melissa Murphy, Dave Ewald, Pat Luebke, Jack Olcott, and Rob Mark not only taught me by example, they endured my trials and tribulations as I worked to achieve our common successes. Without them, I would not have been able to learn from so many others.

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Generations of Aviation Relevance

By Scott Spangler on October 19th, 2015 | 1 Comment »

NAHA-28On my inaugural visit to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, I expected nothing more than the opportunity to meet many of the airplanes I’ve read about in their tactile, three-dimensional magnificence. The museum, part of the National Aviation Heritage Area that encompasses Dayton, Ohio, and its surrounding communities, more than met my expectation. Unexpected was the epiphany that arose from an obscure airplane, a simple but vexing question, and the spirit of my father, a naval aviator who joined his World War II compatriots in 2008.

The Air Force Museum has divided its vast collection by conflict/era in four huge hangars: World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and the new hangar, which is open in the spring, which will display the collection’s experimental aircraft, such as the X-15. Walking in the World War II hangar with Paul Dye, editor of Kitplanes magazine, we came across the AT-9 and wondered who had given a Twin Beech an Art Deco makeover. Seeing the airplane in profile, I realized that I’d seen the airplane before, in two-dimensions. And thinking of the worn Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters Handbook, published by the National Aeronautics Council in 1943, resurrected my father’s spirit, for it was his NavCad book bag, and he used it to teach me to read words and airplanes.

NAHA-255Edited by Ensign L.C. Guthman, the handbook categorized the Allied and Axis aircraft of the era by number of engines, from six to gliders, and the position of their wings, high, mid-wing, and low. The AT-9, an advanced trainer, made by Curtiss-Wright, the nacelles of its two Lycoming R-680-9 radial engines extending beyond its Art Deco nose, is on page 134. Not far from what may well be the last tangible example of this little known airplane is the airplane on page 135, the Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando.

As we wandered through the connecting hallway that led to the Cold War, Paul asked an often-posed question: Why has interest in the aircraft of World War II endured in their popularity compared to the veterans who flew during the conflicts waged during my lifetime, Korea and Vietnam? The kernel of one possible answer was planted when I noticed a heavily armed Predator drone flying above a heavily armed Skyraider that saw service in Southeast Asia.

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